“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.” Amelia Hoshouser
A few years ago, I was asked to present a gallery “Art talk.”
Rather than deliver a rambling self -bio of sorts, I thought it would be more helpful and interesting to engage the audience to my muse…nature.
Collectors and Gallery visitors often express desire to connect to wilderness on a deeper level and ‘see’ with creative vision.
With research and practices I developed “How to connect with nature in the way of a Landscape Artist” presented in video form.
I am cringing more than a little, film makers and creators reading this that would do much better than I in this medium.
Despite that, the timing may be right to introduce it to you, knowing my work as a full time artist, is also to inspire. I hope this little film does that.
Thank you kindly to contributors, Maneli Jamal, my brother and nephew for their original music scores.
Thank you to my brother Darin, Tina, Kristin and Julia for photos, my cousin Kyle, for drone photography, my cousin Max for checking my research, and the scientists who continue to discover more about humanity’s connection to wilderness.
Thank you to the Nature conservancies who work tireless to educate, protect and conserve our wild spaces, and to those who support these conservancies.
He would pluck us out of the canoe and toss us overboard. “ These life jackets haven’t been tested yet, so.. you better swim.”
I always believed him, and would paddle in the middle of the freshwater lake like my pants were on fire.
His career in Parks gave us a life of wonder, living in and around wilderness.
It was magic, and among it all, we knew we were loved unconditionally, and protected by our parents. Our passions and independence were encouraged, our freedom given.
His career gave us the good parts, and he sheltered us from the rest. The politics and injustice, tirelessly fighting wildfires and looking for the lost. He broke trails in 40 below in bitterly cold Saskatchewan winters. He comforted the weary and stood up for those wronged, in all spectrums.
In his early career, he started youth outdoor programs, teaching wilderness skills to children often forgotten, left out of the circles of society at the time.
During an early post living on a Northern Reserve, he initiated home building projects for the village. He built a community dock, when the Indian Agent said he had no right to do so. “Everyone has a right to a home, a dock, To respect”, he said. In those years he would see the birth of his son, and form lasting friendships. He would witness injustice to those very friends, and come to their defence at great risk. It was the early 60’s, when so few stood against discrimination.
When he and my brother returned 50 years later, one of the houses still stood, and an Elder remembered him on sight. They embraced, recalling good memories.
In one southern Park we lived, a rule for all park cottagers/ residents was to halt at the Park gate and present your Park pass. A cottager with a fighting mean streak would breeze through and never stop. Some were afraid to report his misdoings. When Dad witnessed this, he confronted him, encouraging him to get in his car. He drove him thru the gate, with instructions, “This is how you stop appropriately and how you greet the park staff respectfully. Now do it.” He did, never flying through the gates again. He told other cottagers that my Dad, soft spoken and non- violent, “ a big strong man with steely blue eyes” commanded respect.
Dad has volunteered throughout his career, setting tracks for Winter fest dogsled races, serving on village council, playing music for those in nursing homes and hospitals. He performed 1000 shows between the ages of 70 & 80.
In his retirement, he came back full circle to the Indigenous, volunteering for CESO.
“ Economic reconciliation is at the heart of what we do at CESO. With over 50 years of experience working with Indigenous communities across Canada, we understand the complexity and diversity of their resources and needs. We work in partnership with Indigenous peoples to build human capacity to create environments where members of Indigenous communities can fully participate and benefit from economic growth.” Ceso website.
He has remained quietly steadfast. A man of few words, exhibiting actions often speak louder. He has never wavered in his commitment to humanity and nature, continuing to live a life of generosity, kindness, and gratitude.
At a medical appointment earlier this year, responding to a diagnosis, he took my hands in mine, “ Oh Dawn, I have such a good life, grateful to have lived this long without having any health issues. I never expected to go on forever.”
Well, I sort of did, I said. And we laughed and hugged.
What a wonder to have this amazing role model and great love in my life. What a gift he is.
Happy Father’s Day this Sunday to my dear Papa and all the amazing Dad’s.
All artwork is available for purchase, please email me for details. firstname.lastname@example.org
They’ll bring a sense of calm at the end of a hard day,
and light the beginning of a new one.
It’s about reviving what makes us uniquely human,
ways that connect us.
They’ll remind you… you aren’t alone.
Thank you to the collectors who contributed their beautiful photos for sharing. To purchase available work, please email me at email@example.com, I would love to help with your collection, it would be an honour to be a part of your story.
Open minded curiosity is essential for inspiration to take flight in any worthy pursuit, not only art. Observing without preconceived notions increases empathy and opportunity for learning.
Inquisitive nature may direct you to unexpected wondrous discoveries, passions, or a brand new path in life.
Compassion for a friend moved me to run my first 5k race. Desire to understand a strangers ill temper inspired me to run a marathon.
My favourite kindergarten recess activity was to run the perimeter of the playground until the bell rang. Besides being fun, it reduced awkward social activity. I was really shy.
When classmates asked what I was doing, responding “Running in circles” and avoiding them felt inappropriate.
Coming up with something on the fly, I said I was pretending to be a racehorse, running the circular track. A few joined in the “no talking, only running game”, but soon became bored. The only man left running, was my friend Gerrod. The strong silent type.
As an adolescent I joined Mom running on Northern pine forested trails in the dappled light of summer. In my teens, my friend and I clad in heavy grey sweatpants would meet for runs in cool early mornings before school.
Adulthood commitments all but depleted my running routine. In my 30s, I was inspired to sign up for a 5k charity run dedicated to the treatment of a friends recent diagnosis.
Still, I never considered myself a runner. I had no desire to run long distance and race events .. until…a woman cursed me with the viciousness of a cornered wolverine.
Arriving early Thanksgiving morning to volunteer at the Victoria Marathon in the mid 90s, I discovered my allotted post, near 20 miles into the 26.2 mile hilly seaside route would be solely manned.. by me. The other volunteers didn’t show up. My director explained how important it was to safely direct traffic, and encourage runners. Be the smile everyone would want to see at this point in the race.
I took my job seriously, with no other spectators in sight, I felt it extra important to support athletes in this remote location. I lost my voice cheering runners with encouragements, standing alone for hours on that rise above the ocean. It was my first experience seeing a marathon, I marvelled at the runners diversity, courage, and athleticism.
Later in the afternoon as a group of runners came into view, I clapped and said how inspired I was by them, by this incredible accomplishment. One approached, her face twisted in anger, spewed profanities at me. Horrified , I frantically wondered how I had unknowingly offended her. Another runner offered a look of apology, thanking me for giving up my holiday weekend to volunteer.
My friends who ran the race, assured me later I hadn’t said anything wrong, explaining while running a marathon, people may feel and act unlike themselves, especially around 20 miles. They called it “The Wall”. * ( Fleet Feet describes the Wall as “that sudden wave of extreme fatigue around that plagues your body. ..”” hittingthe “wall” is a condition of sudden fatigue and loss of energy caused by the depletion of glycogen storage in the liver and muscles”)
I was intrigued, making a silent commitment to participate in that event, in an effort to understand the experience.
Returning after completing my first marathon in Vancouver, I arrived with an extra sense of gratitude and enthusiasm. The Victoria marathon course is one of the most beautiful in the country, offering ocean and wooded views, and live classical music in lush colourful gardens.
When I arrived at the spot along that rise above the ocean around 20 miles, I stopped to shake the hands of the volunteers and thank them. I was greeted with beautiful smiles, just the ones I wanted to see at that point in the race.
I have now run 10 marathons, gleaning abundant life experience from training and participating. I met Marc in a running club training for my third race. Marathon running gave me the courage to participate in Ironman. I have met a vast spectrum of incredible people, including clients and formed best friendships. I have heard remarkable stories, and all the different reasons they run, like in memory of a loved one, a personal dream, supporting others, a challenge, improve health, achieve a goal left unfinished by another. I may not know the person’s story from that day, but it helps knowing the abundant reasons people arrive to a start line, and how challenging it can be to follow thru.
My passion for distance running was born not of a desire to race, achieve, or push boundaries, but to relate, to understand.
In challenging times, when stressed and fatigued, its easy to get lost in our own struggles, project anger to those in our midst, or make incorrect assumptions. We may forget they may be going thru much more than we know.
Though we can attempt to walk or run in another’s shoes, everyone is experiencing their own complicated, private journey. Kindness and insight can ease the situation, perhaps even lead to unexpected discoveries on your own path.
ALL work above are brand new paintings fresh on the easel, with the exception of 1990’s acrylic 16×20 of the Pacific. Please email me to purchase, 2019 pricing applies. Thank you!!
We sat at the breakfast table joyfully absorbing the lake and valley panorama. Below us a runner came into view, striding by up the steep country road.
Her back glistened in the morning summer sun as she climbed. Admiring her strength and grace, we smiled to one another and retrieved our teacups.
She turned to me as she spoke. “I remember, you know. What that feels like, what it is like. I can feel it right now.”
It had been decades since she had been able to run, years since she had walked. Grinning at my look of surprise, she set down her cup and relaxed in her chair.
I remember her that day so well, sitting before me in her favourite corner of the dining room, banks of lake view windows surrounding her. Smiling.
She closed her eyes.
Intrigued, I waited in silence.
Her faced softened as she took deep breaths. Her shoulders relaxed downward, her hands unfurled. I watched her chest begin to rise and fall mimicking a running rhythm. Any tension in her body began to visibly disappear. Behind closed lids, her focus was a vision of favourite sunlit forested trails. She was there, among them, running.
It wasn’t new for me to see her in a meditative state, a practitioner of TM since 1970, but this was very different than anything I had ever witnessed.
She suddenly seemed lit from within. More than mesmerized, I was in absolute awe. She was completely transported, and transformed before my eyes.
And in those moments, she was completely and utterly free from the wheelchair that bound her.
Mom taught me we are not defined by circumstance but by attitude. That freedom and choice are available when it may seem anything but.
She was a nurse. Witnessing her save a life when I was a toddler is a memory that remains clear. Too young to be afraid, I watched her calm and cradle a fallen injured stranger. She spoke with a gentle authoritative tone I had not heard before, as she knelt on a department store floor in her pretty blue dress. I remember the feel of the fabric of that dress, grasped in my little fist as I toddled along beside her.
Her quick reaction and command of the situation was instilled in me, assisting the fallen woman, advising strangers nearby what to do. Perhaps that’s when I began to see her as figure bigger than life, a superhero.
Mom was a lover of family, nature, the arts, a vibrant life force. She was a champion of health, and those less fortunate. A wise sage, embodying a creative spirit, sparked with humour, with a strong work ethic engaged fully in life.
She reminded me a job half done was one not done, and not to miss the sunrise.
She taught me that the only confines we really have in this life are in our minds.
Forever grateful, her last words were in thanks, and love.
She was the colour.
My heroic view of her may have began when I was very young, it rooted firmly witnessing how courageously, selflessly she lived the last years and hours of her life.
As you Celebrate your Mom on Mother’s Day next weekend, celebrate who she is to you, to herself and to the world.
If you feel confined and separated, you can access places and people you love in your mind and heart. Close your eyes, breathe and visualize them. These Connections run deep, love thrives…and lasts.
P.S ~ to all the nurses, healthcare professionals, and all of those working in necessary occupations, thank you for your commitment to humanity.
Please email me to purchase artwork. The studio is open for shipping & delivery!
Your home does not need to appear staged for a House Beautiful photo shoot right now. There will be no unexpected pop overs from neighbors or clients.
No critics are wondering why the flower vase is being used as a pencil holder, craft projects are scattered on the kitchen table, why your new uniform is ‘athleisure’, or if your socks match.
Orchestrate, design, decorate your surroundings for your lifestyle, not a magazine. Recent circumstances allow wonderful opportunity to explore and reconfigure your dwelling elements, focussing on what works for you, and enhance your experience indoors. If it is a change of scenery you desire, it is at your convenience right now, without having to leave home.
Consider tactile items, like changing accent pillows, everyday dishes & tea towels, adding more plants & natural elements, opening window coverings normally closed, re arranging art, inspire a sense of a new environment altogether .
Focus on experience as a whole, engaging your senses, include textures, sound, scents, colour, furnishings, light. Reconfigure furniture, declutter, or add items of value that make you feel good. Simple additions can make a huge difference, especially in every day items and often occupied rooms. You look at your bathmat every day, take advantage of the place you are most often barefoot, choose a soft tactile one that mimics the feeling of fresh grass, creating a morning ritual that is a grounding experience.
Dishes, another every day item can be a wonderful tactile experience. Consider purchasing handmade mugs from a local potter. Created from clay, they are connective to the earth, and the maker. You might gift several to friends and family who you are unable to see in person. You can each share a cup of tea on zoom, FaceTime or web chats with your similar mugs. I love these heart mugs from The Pottery Cupboard.
I have a clients who change their art collection per season, storing pieces in between the seasons. This is a wonderful way to transition from seasons and introduce renewal in your home.
To invoke as sense of soothing, apply calming colours/ shapes, nature elements in transitional spaces leading to bedrooms.
The colour lavender induces relaxation similar to the flower. Winter paintings, treasured art we have collected, and family photos are displayed in our hallway. These provide a lovely peaceful experience.
Repainting walls in a fresh creamy ivory will reflect light, offering a feeling of airiness and open space.
Science suggests we have amazingly powerful response to elements in our dwellings.( Click here for further reading.)
You can create influential indoor experience for positive behaviour, improved health, productivity, sleep, communication, engagement, nutrition, etc. An interview with architect Barbara Stewart in Psychology of Interior Design describes these kind of design elements in depth. ( Its well worth the read. click here )
Stewart says it’s no surprise many people want wood floors, because they ‘replicate the forest floor.’
She mentions paying attention to how we will move in the space, “meander as thou on a path in nature’….’ if a zoologist designed human habitat, it would’ reinforce natural patterns and reduce stressors.”
Friends, I hope you are able to “Meander as thou on a path in nature” in your space, feeling positive energy all around. Be well, be safe.
~Photo ~Seattle Glass Museum~ and outdoor garden.
~ Paintings are available for purchase, the studio is open for business with e transfer payments, shipping, free local delivery/ drop off. With an inventory of 70 paintings in the studio, and several more at the gallery, like any business, it is required we sell existing art before I create more. Thou the brush has stilled, I have not, focusing on building/ creating collector relationships and creating ideas on what is next for my career. Thanks so much for your letters and positive response on the work & posts.
“This is a timed exercise, starting as soon as the door closes.”
On a cool cloudy day gathered before a massive steel cylinder the size of a semi trailer,( once perhaps an oil tanker), my Captain stood with his stop watch in hand.
The huge tank sat purposely obscured from our view in the Search and Rescue training yard. My team and I stood at one end in front of a thick steel circular vault- like portal door.
Each member would be closed in the tank, alone, with a designated time allotment to find a way out, not using the portal door we entered.
We were told the entire interior was solid steel, obstacles, tunnels, walls, ladders, pathways and dead ends, all welded in place. We had no map or idea of where the other door may be. If it was a door at all.
We would not be equip with communication or a light. The tank would be completely void of light. “So dark,” “you won’t be able to see your hand in front of your face” our Captain explained.
If we didn’t make it out in the required time, they would retrieve us. “Remember in real life scenario, lives are depending on you. No one is going to retrieve you. You need to succeed.”
Oh, …and … we were dressed in full fire gear, including Scott packs/ oxygen tanks and helmets.
Familiar with wearing light weight fitted gear for fitness & running, it felt odd to be approaching a physical drill wearing cumbersome ill fitting weighted clothes that prohibited movement, like a jumpsuit of cement.
I was about 5th in line. One member made it out on time. They had to retrieve three, one didn’t make the time frame, the other two panicked. All were seasoned veterans on the team. Witnessing this before my turn was more than a little unnerving.
I thought about strategy. It didn’t make sense to stand at the portal looking back to my teammates and watch it close before me like the others.
I went straight in keeping my back to the portal, taking advantage of those precious few seconds of light before the entrance closed. The first 10 feet I could see a half wall and various items welded to the floor that could possibly trip me.
When the portal shut with a definitive bang, I felt a small trickle of fear. Enveloped in utter darkness, the kind of darkness eyes never adjust to, I would no longer be able to rely on sight. The only audible sound was my magnified breathing from the Scott pack. Mobility in the gear made it extra challenging.
Without sight, walking was dangerous, obstacles were purposefully created to trip and inhibit.
Unfamiliar with my personal body space, feeling and fumbling around, climbing, crawling, I kept banging into things forgetting I had helmet on and all this stuff on my back. Spaces I normally would fit thru, I didn’t. Passage ways weren’t where you would think, with dead ends at the top of a ladder, tunnels half way up the side of the tank. Nothing about the interior structure was normal or made sense.
We were training for natural disasters, primarily earthquakes. When a building collapses, everything changes, demolished interiors are filled with obstacles, the way out might be in the ceiling, basement, thru the side, a window. Or, we created an exit with our bare hands, using axes during exercises in real collapsed buildings.
Ability to visualize, keep calm and an open mind helped me to succeed that day. I thought about what my Captain said, it wasn’t just about me succeeding, other people would be depending on me. Stay the course. I visualized surroundings I had been thru and kept exploring forward, sideways, up, down and back. There is a way out, I told myself calmly, finally emerging bruised and battered into the blinding light.
These days it may feel a lot like we are fumbling alone in the dark with no light in sight, disconnected from our team.
Weighted down, unable to move in our spaces and lives as we usually do, unfamiliar with our limits and direction. How we move forward is unclear, and nothing feels normal. It may feel impossible to navigate this.
Few are immune to these circumstances. Personally, Marc and I certainly aren’t, with family and friends affected. Professionally, galleries and museums are closed, some will never open again. Some artists no longer have a career.
I have had a few moments I feel like I am in that tank again, in the dark, reaching blindly in front of me wondering “well, now what?”
These aren’t circumstances to be swept under the rug and bark out a ‘chin up.’ Its a time to be gentle, with ourselves and others, not afraid to ask for help when needed. Supporting each other, we recover stronger, perhaps a more compassionate mindful humanity with common vision.Knowing others are depending on us, helps to stay the course.
Regardless of distance, love supports and lifts. Love and kindness help dispel loneliness.
Presently, creative innovators, leaders, scientists are working tirelessly for solutions. Inspirational stories emerge, while fitness &, health professionals, nutritionists, councillors, therapists, musicians and artists thru the aid of technology help keep us healthy, safe, entertained, inspired ,motivated and connected.
No map of what is ahead is opportunity to create the kind of future we want to see. Instead of looking back how life and work were, How do we emerge into this new landscape?
In art, sometimes fumbling around results in the best work. We create in times of darkness, recognizing there isn’t just one solution, there are many waiting to be discovered.
“ Little D, you surprised me. I pegged you as one who would panic.” Assistant Captain. S&R.
~ and now for the ART. ..with Studio inventory high, and supplies low, I have been revisiting paintings in need of attention and consideration, sanding some down to begin again, and working on value/composition skills.
‘Autumn” 5×7 oil on board $400.oo
Rocks and Trees 12×16 oil on canvas $910.oo
“Boreal Canoe” 24×36 oil on canvas $2,390.oo
If you are able, please follow on Instagram, this week I posted a painting video, and keep updated with all studio happenings.
A shout out to Joshua at Hambleton Galleries in Kelowna, for continuing to serve clients online & by appointment, working so hard for we artists he represents. Yay Joshua!!
“We have forgotten what rocks and plants still know, we have forgotten how to be, to be still, to be ourselves, to be where life is here and now.” E. Tolle
I’m venturing out of my comfort zone.. and silence this week to share a video chat from the studio, recently posted Linked IN and Instagram. No need to subscribe or log in. ( I recognize many of my followers aren’t on social media, that’s totally ok!)
With work that I do, it’s easy to feel like we aren’t contributing enough and even ..unnecessary ( one artist sadly confessed) during a time like this.
I can understand his and other creatives despair. I haven’t been immune to fleeting feelings such as this.
But, if we look back in time, the arts still flourished during war, drought, and illness. People have historically found comfort in and invested in art. They have reached to art for hope, inspiration. It celebrates our humanity.
Viewing art reduces stress, prompts ideas, innovative thought, imagination, observation. Science suggests it can help to heal, emotionally and physically.
Art can transport us. And maybe, just maybe some of you are waiting to be transported, even for a few minutes.
I would love to indulge you.
These new pieces are created indoor with a plein air intention, using techniques with few brush changes, limited colours, infused with the freshness of the outdoors, on small transportable canvas.
This 8×10 and 5×7’s have flexibility to be exhibited in smaller spaces, and can be framed for desks or tables.
As mentioned in the video, I am sending wellness thoughts and positive energy to you all. Thank you for continuing to infuse your life with art.
To the little creative beehives around the world, know you matter. The work you do, with positive intention, it matters. We all have something to offer, ways to help and be of service. Together we are a beautiful force of nature.
~ Longevity, wellness, and innovative thinking thrives in those who do not lose their sense of playfulness~
Clients brought a surprise gift when they arrived last month to view their commissioned painting.
This unique offering, personally delivered with a wonderful story, has creative aspects, challenges, historical content, and fun “whimsy’s’.
As if an antique wooden puzzle of Van Gogh’s wheat fields in a pretty little box wasn’t enough to delight me, their account of puzzle history and idea behind sharing this historical gem was captivating.
I didn’t even know what a whimsy was.
This isn’t your cardboard run- of- the- mill puzzle. It’s truly a crafted work of art. Every single piece reflects masterful work of craftsman and painter.
Holding these delicate timeless items with their scent of history causes one to ponder previous generations gathered around kitchen tables, marvelling at the makers intelligence.
The creativity applied to create these puzzles is amazing. A beautiful merging of art & craft.
Like other art forms, they are collected, saved, cherished and passed down in families.
My clients explained, in early puzzle making days the master craftsman, using a jigsaw, cut complicated designs in the wooden paintings, or ‘prints’.
Pieces were sculpted in the shapes of animals, people or objects, called a ‘whimsy’’, and cuts along colour/ design lines were created to confuse and challenge. Considered cheating if one sees the image, early puzzles never came with picture of the finished puzzle.
Naturally, some antique puzzles are missing pieces. My clients suggested with Marc’s fine woodworking skills, we could make replacement pieces, with wood and paint.How awesome is this idea!
While building Van Gogh’s brilliant painting, I have my own puzzle challenge rules, including :
“No looking”at the image.
Having no reference, I am unclear on what images I am putting together. It is great for building creative muscle, by detaching from labeling things.
I wear sunglasses to distort the colour. This forces me to look for pattern recognition in Van Gogh’s brush strokes…. bold complicated brushstrokes that diverge in all direction. It is a sort of upside down way of thought, colour on top of colour challenge. It’s truly a wonderful way to study his brilliant brushstrokes.
Puzzle themes vary immensely, and can be engaging for people of all ages. Benefits participating in this inspiring activity include creative, intuitive, intellectually building fun, with options to achieve solo, or with family & friends.
Searching for a unique fun way to constructively pass time? to engage your focus without requiring passwords or technology? Check out antique wooden puzzles for sale on various websites. To view and purchase new, with amazing art & whimsy’s see Liberty Puzzles online.
~“Whoever wants to understand much must play much.” Gottfried Benn
“Play keeps us vital and alive. It gives us an enthusiasm for life that is irreplaceable.” Lucia Capacchione
“Play is your route to mastery.” Sara Genn
A source of play is a positive activity in possibly challenging times.
A gentle reminder, social distancing does not mean staying indoors at all times, refreshing excursions outdoors in nature lifts the spirits and builds immunity.
Artists, familiar with isolation, often working solo, know we may not always be in physical contact but are a part of a community none the less, and feel the strength of it. You are not alone.
New work~ A constructive week in the studio tweaking paintings that have been awaiting my final touch!
Poppies 9×12 oil on canvas ~ $530.oo
Northern Rock 16×20 oil on canvas ~ $1,030.oo
Grasses Plein air ~ 6×8 oil on board ~ 400.oo
Winter Forest Plein air 6×8 oil on board ~ $400.oo